By Petros Kausiyo
FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura is set to accompany world football governing body’s president Gianni Infantino on his high-profile visit to Zimbabwe tomorrow.That will add more weight to ZIFA boss Philip Chiyangwa’s massive birthday and COSAFA victory bash set for Harare. Chiyangwa will be marking his belated 58th birthday as well as celebrating his ascendency to the COSAFA presidency following the regional body’s elections held at Sun City, South Africa in December last year.
While Infantino had earlier confirmed his visit to Zimbabwe, the event got another boost with revelations that Samoura will also be among the high profile guests.
Chiyangwa has invited several high-profile football personalities from across the globe for the bash with Infantino set to be the guest of honour.
And, as preparations for the party gathered momentum yesterday, another high-profile figure — FIFA secretary-general Samoura — also confirmed she would be part of the entourage that will be in Zimbabwe at Chiyangwa’s invitation.
The Harare property mogul said Samoura had indicated that she would also be part of the guests that will be in the country.
Samoura was appointed FIFA secretary-general, replacing the fired Jerome Valcke, with the Senegalese national, who served 21 years at the United Nations, being unveiled on May 13 last year.
The 54-year-old administrator started her UN career as a senior logistics officer with the World Food Programme in Rome in 1995, and later served as country representative or director in six countries: Republic of Djibouti, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Madagascar and Nigeria.
She speaks French, English, Spanish and Italian.
Chiyangwa has also set up an organising committee that is headed by Affirmative Action Group president Chamu Chiwanza who has reportedly been working to ensure Infantino’s visit and the birthday bash leaves a lasting impression.
The birthday bash has already sent some shocks down the Confederation of African Football’s corridors of power with the continental body’s president Issa Hayatou trying in vain to stop the gathering.
Hayatou and his leadership claim that Infantino’s trip will be used to prop up support for his challenger for the CAF presidency — Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar.
But that the second most important person in global football — Samoura — is also heading to Harare is a further dent to the CAF leaders who have been trying to sell their own spin about the gathering in Harare following the sensational claims that Hayatou made suggesting that the February 24 event was meant to “destabilise CAF”.
The FIFA leadership’s visit has also excited the Government with Minister of Sport and Recreation Makhosini Hlongwane hopeful that domestic football and the country at large will leverage on the visit by the international game’s most powerful personalities.
That Samoura will also be part of the delegation to Harare also serves a major assertion to Chiyangwa’s argument that his bash was not a ploy to destabilise CAF as feared by Hayatou.
Hayatou sent a chilling warning to Chiyangwa through the CAF secretary-general Hicham El Amrani against inviting African football leaders who are outside the COSAFA zone for the bash.
But the ZIFA boss has since clarified to CAF that the party was neither an extraordinary meeting nor any formal indaba at which any resolutions outside the realms of the continental body’s statutes would be made.
Chiyangwa, citing provisions of the CAF statutes, noted that COSAFA was not obliged to seek the continental body’s approval to interact with other zonal groupings such as CECAFA or WAFU.